Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rock(-ing) Week

The two weeks following Goonj has had many ups and downs. The end of Goonj meant the beginning of studies and back to a normal student life. Our first sessional exams took place the very next week. Our subjects in this semester are extremely tough and we anticipated a very difficult sessional (although we were not prepared for it), but to our relief the questionnaires were pretty simple. The evening of the final sessional a live concert of one of my favorite bands took place. Jal & Aryans live at Leisure Valley. Obviously Jal is one of my favorite bands. I had already purchased general tickets of the concert two days in advance. Some of my other friends who were as enthusiastic as me had also purchased their tickets beforehand. Everyone in the crowd was there to listen to Jal. Although Jal was supposed to perform before Aryans, this order was reversed at the very last moment as the whole audience was interested only in Jal. This step was taken in order to hold the crowd till the very end of the show (same reason as to why we held the important competitions just before the prize distribution ceremony in Exun). The performance by Aryans was pathetic. This was the first time I saw a professional band being booed out of the concert. They had to make way for Jal, all embarrassed and humiliated. The band of Jal was excellent. Their drummer, guitarist and the vocalist, all of them were excellent in their respective fields. The section closest to the stage was VIP section, followed by the guest section and finally the general section. Each of the sections was separated by chest-high steel barriers. Only the first two sections had seating arrangement. As soon as Jal started their performance, many people started jumping over the barriers and had to be controlled by the policemen put on duty. Also all the audience in the guest section stood up on their chairs and cheered the band. We decided not to jump over and stay back as there were lots of us in a group. The band played almost all my favorites except one. We all had an excellent time at the show, most of us were dancing, head-banging and enjoying as much as we can. But the entire crowd in the guest section remained standing still on the chair, apparently most of them did not know about the other hits of Jal apart from Lamhay and Aadat. They also played a song from one of their upcoming albums. Paying Rs.100/- for a concert of this kind was more that worth it.
The final jam session of Jal and Aryans was very good and it was a truly entertaining night.

The following night about 5 of us went out for dinner. We decided to try out the new Yo China! that had opened up in Chandigarh. That was the first time so many of us were going out on a proper pre-planned dinner at a multi-chain outlet. Unfortunately this Yo China! is a franchisee and its menu is quite different from the ones offered at Delhi. Obviously where-ever we go as a group we do things that people normally won’t do. That is the advantage you have as a college student. I still remember the day when we went to a Chinese restaurant 'The Dragon Chinese' at sec-15, we all occupied seats, drank water, looked at the menu which appeared to be costly and then simply walk out. But this time we had to eat. The meal was excellent not because the food was tasty, but because we made it even more enjoyable. We had ordered dim sums and in Yo China! they are served in cane basket-like containers (I don't know what it is called). One of my friends started asked them if we could take them home. This conversation with the waiter extended very long and the subject changed to the no of things we can do with the basket. The only thing that they could do with it was serve momos, but we insisted that we could put it to a better use by growing plants in it or to store things etc etc. This was followed by demanding more and more dim sum sauce which tasted extremely good along with the momos. Finally we decided to carry tiffin boxes the next time to take dim sum sauce back home. Another friend of mine started eating the cabbage used for decoration of the dim sums. In fact he ate each piece of cabbage he could extract out of the container. He even used a knife kept in the spoon-stand of our table to scratch out some burnt pieces of the cabbage and then replaced it back in the same stand along with the fresh cutlery. Finally he returned the basket with few microscopic pieces of cabbage and apologized for not being able to finish it. As we were about to end our meal, we made a plan to escape the restaurant without paying for the food. One by one we would walk up to the gate and run out and away from the restaurant as fast as we could and not turn back at all. This whole conversation was done pretty loudly in order to humor ourselves. Finally after paying the bill we demanded for Sauf & Chini as mouth refreshment. But the manager apologized and explained that they do not have that as it was a Chinese Restaurant. We asked them whether Chinese people have Sauf or not. He had no answer to that question. Just a smile. In our language we call such acts "Chod Machana".

The sessional exams were followed by two working days and then three holidays. Most of the hostellers use such short holidays to go home and so they even bunk the two working days and enjoy a nice long 5 day break. On the other hand the students who are left behind, both hostellers and day scholars use the fact that most of the hostellers are at home and they go on a mass bunk. The same thing happened this weekend. By Friday morning every friend of mine living in my hostel went back home. Two others did not go back home but spent most of their time with their local friends. I was left all alone. But thankfully I did not get bored because of PecFest. PecFest is the college fest of Punjab Engineering College. I spent most of my time there, but hardly participated in any event as I did not have any one else to form a team. Their fest was pretty good. They have more sponsorship but I have no idea where all their sponsorship money has gone, as there was nothing extraordinary there. Apart from the star-nite, the other two nights were not at all entertaining. Goonj was a lot better in this regard. There were only two things that I liked in PecFest- The Quiz and The Star-nite. The quiz was conducted by a professional quizmaster. He had a huge database of questions in his mind. It seemed that he was plucking questions straight out of thin air. Two of the rounds were extremely interesting. In one of them he gave out newspapers to each of the teams and asked them to choose a page of their choice. He will then look at the page for about half a minute and then make a question out of the contents of the page. The answers will also be there in the page itself. A very good and innovative round but only one team was able to answer their question. In another round he gave each of the teams to choose any state of India and a corresponding topic on which he would ask a question. I must say that the performance of this quizmaster was the best I have ever seen till now. Euphoria was invited to perform on star-nite. Initially I was all alone, but soon I found some of my friends out there. The performance of this band was superb, far superlative than most other bands I had seen. Dr Palash Sen the lead singer of this band sang some of the famous Hindi and English numbers and obviously all the famous Euphoria tracks. The most important part of his performance was his interaction with the crowd. He has a knack of involving people in his music. Definitely PecFest ended with a bang and so did my days of loneliness as all the hostellers returned back the next day. Back for another session of fun, masti and Chod Machana.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Goonj 2006

Goonj is a three day fest of UIET which has technical, cultural, academic and other events. All three days the UIET building looks pretty chaotic. Sponsor banners, students, confused participants, busy help-desk, food and other stalls are some of the common sightings outside the building. This year the main sponsor of our fest was Airtel.

As a member of technical committee I was also a Goonj Organiser. Days leading to Goonj were extremely tiring esp. because our dear convener has been very inefficient. Just two days before the fest he realised that the none of the required softwares for the different techncal events were installed on the computers. So at the very last moment he turned to me, and thankfully I had the resources and I provided them with almost all the required ones. And finally he assigned me to install all the softwares!! It took me almost one full day to install the softwares on 35 nodes. Since anyone hardly helped me, it made the job even tougher.

Looking at the non-technical events we had both cultural and academic events, competitions and programmes. Some of the secial events were Treasure Hunt and Young Turks. In Treasure Hunt clues are provided to reach a point in the campus where the next clue is hidden and this way the hunt goes on. Young Turks has been one of the most heavily marketed events. Many of my friends joined the team of Young Turks as volunteers. They were initially involved in hunting sponsors for the event and later turned to extensive marketing. Young Turks was extremely successful last year, so they got lots of sponsors and the posters of this event were pasted all around the city. This event has a written screening round based upon a topic of participants choice, followed by a final round in which the participants directly interact with certain celebrities like TV actors, RJs etc. Although I was extremely interested in participating in this event but unfortunately I was too occupied with the technical committee tasks. Another good event was Rendevous, in which certain executives from leading IT companies were invited to interact with the students. My friends told me that this event was awesome. Most of them liked the invitee from Microsoft who gave his presentation using Notepad. Another interesting competition was Besura Duet. As the name suggests, a team of two have to sing in a Besura and humourous manner.

Coming back to the technical events.. We had planned 22 events, but unfortunately 2 events had to be cancelled due to very less participations. The first technical event to be organised was on the software development using c\c++. Since I did not organise that event (and because of my obvious interest in programming) I decided to participate in that event. I teamed up with Varun (ECE, 1st year) who stays next to my room. He is not extremely talented in C++, but he has done c++ in 12th. First up was a written multiple choice screening. I must say that if was a very tough paper for a first year (even for me). We had to think a lot to logically derive the probable solutions. But the result was good and we were the only first year team to qualify (our score was pretty decent, we were third in screening!!). But the smile on our face was erased by the main programming question. Unlike the previous competitions in which I had participated, this had only one question. Unfortunately the question was too tough for us to understand. Each line was OHT (Over-Head Transmission). The question had something to do with Cyclic Redundancy Check, binary etc etc which overall made very little sence to me. We scratched our heads for about an hour, looked at others who were typing confusedly typing some commands and then gave up and left. Some of the other good and successful events were Mathsmania- Mini Olympiad, Sudoku, Encryption-Decryption, Photoshop Designing, Debugging and flash animation. I also participated in Photoshop Designing but I had no partner. Although I did not win anything, I liked the topic and the overall event. The last thing I participated in was Debugging with a 2nd year CSE student Siddharth who is also in the technical committee. We suddenly decided to participate in it about a few minutes before the start of the screening. 10 participants were to be selected from the screening test which was extremely tricky. A brilliant screening paper I must say. We had to spot the bug and also name the which type of bug it is (Compiler, Runtime, L-Value etc). Unfortunately we did not make it. Later on when the finals had already started I checked out the corrected paper and I realised that our paper was incorrectly checked. When I approached the person who was organising this event, I was very correctly told "You are a member of technical committee and have the liberty to see the paper but that gives you no right to contest the checking of the paper". Mathsmania and Encryption-Decryption (Which was done entirely by me except for a small help by Rungta) were superhit events. Sudoku also had a very high participation. Ahother event that I fully organised was Data-Mining. Similar to one at our school but I had both text and picture clues and also an icon as a clue. I gave them 3 lifelines which they can use if they are unable to solve a clue. Overall I am pretty satisfied with my events.

As you all know that Goonj was a 3-day event. Each night had some special events. First night was a Lazer Show. As an organiser I was allowed to enter the exclusive section that was right in front of the podium. Each lazer show was followed by one or two cultural shows. The lazer show was brilliant and most of the effects left us spellbound. Never before I have seen anything like that. The following night was the rock night. A band from our university played a few good songs which was followed by a Delhi based rock band Prithvi. Their performance was terrific. The lead singer and guitarist seems to be a big GnR fan. His performance was exactly like them, the was he played guitar, his movements. They played lots of GnR tracks, Linkin Park, Bryan Adams songs from their own album etc. The whole auditorium was rocking!! Everyone was standing on the chairs, head banging, screaming, shouting.... in short enjoying a rock concert to the extreme. Infact the audi had to suffer a high loss after this concert, brocken chairs, brocken handles etc etc. The final night we got a chance to enjoy disco. DJ Nasha was invited to perform. Although he is supposed to be next best after DJ Aqeel and DJ Suketu, I did not particularly like his mixing. But his choice of music was perfect and the arrangement was very good. The sound was awesome and the volume was extremely high. I loved the quality of speakers he brought along. And that night all of us had a ball. We danced as hard as our legs could bear. Even though we would have loved to dance all night, but in Chandigarh all such night events are to stop by 10 pm. Goonj ended after the dance party with a humble request by our Department Representatives. They asked all of us to go for a mass bunk the next working day.

Over all the fest was lovely and I really enjoyed most of it. But it needs to improve even more. Hopefully next year it will be even better.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Me vs The Technical Committee

Last two weeks most of my time was spent in extensive interaction with the members of the technical committee. As you all know that we organized a national symposium on the 19th of Jan and it was followed by our college fest ‘Goonj’. The symposium was a pretty successful. About 7 speakers came from all over north India to give a presentation on the latest Trends in Computing and Mobile Communication. It was during this event that I had the maximum interaction with the other members of the committee. And I also realized how much disorganized this committee is. Although a few meetings were held beforehand about how this symposium should be organized and marketed, very little came out of the meetings. As usual one or two jobs are assigned to the few members who actually turn up for the meeting. Right from the first day I noticed that very few members actually turn up on the day of the meetings. This symposium was sponsored by Infosys, and was scheduled to take place from the morning till the evening. The biggest problem with this event was that the marketing was not very good. Although the posters of this event were printed well beforehand, they were pasted just a few days before the event. In fact the promotion was done only a day in advance when I had to miss my classes to tell the 1st year students about the event. This was the first big event that was being organized by us and most of the members (even the teacher involved, Mr Harish who in this case is equivalent to Mr Mukesh in Exun) seemed to be confused about how the event should proceed. Some of the questions that came in their mind were: How to welcome the guests? Lunch? Snacks? In which order should the events be held? When do we make the guests light the lamp etc… I passed on all the experience I had gained in school about such events. In fact I had to draft the whole symposium, in which order things will happen etc. I was instructed to be in the back-stage and help out the person who would compare in the event. I also had to wake up at half past five and reach the auditorium by 6:30 in the morning. When I reached there I was very unhappy to see that nothing was prepared. Not even the flex was put up a day before. The only thing that was done the previous day was that 2 tables, 5 chairs and one UPS were kept on the podium!! When I told the convener of the technical committee that lots of things should have been done a day before, his reply was “We did not have enough time.” Well, that explains everything, doesn’t it? After a few hours of hard work we were able to setup the Audi for the event which surprisingly commenced on time. Initially the Audi was jam-packed, but slowly as the day progressed the number of students declined steadily. Although at every step we faced difficulties, but eventually the symposium was a success.
I shall describe ‘Goonj’ in my next blog entry but I would like to introduce the Technical committee to all of you.

First up is Rishabh Dara who is the convener of the Technical committee and a 3rd year student of Telecom and Information Technology. I have already introduced him to you all but I would like to add lots to that. Firstly his ‘cool’ long hair was cut short to a normal length just before the symposium and now just moments ago I met him and his hair is as short as mine. His looks are being mentioned first as he is really bothered about his appearance. And he does not like if anyone comments on his looks. As I mentioned before he smiles perpetually and apparently it makes him a good and a successful flirt. And he rarely gets off his jeans. In the technical side he is mostly doing web-based stuff. I guess rishabhdara.com is one of his creations. I recently got to know that he is also from Delhi and did his schooling from Vasant Valley. My complain against him is that he hardly works. Always roaming around and instructing others to work. And the weirdest thing he did was that he invited me to sleep with him – gave me an opportunity to say that his smile does not work on me.

Next up is Kshitij Aggarwal , a 4th year Computer Science student. Dark and handsome. He is the person who laughs a lot and entertains us a lot, which is what I like about him. But according to me he needs to work more, though he completes almost every little work he takes up.

Jaideep Karam Chandani is in Mechanical 2nd Year. He works a lot!!! He is the only person whom you can see working hard. He takes up all the responsibility that he could and also completes them in the nick of time. I see him as the future convener of Technical Committee. He likes doing IQ-related stuff, Maths, Sudoku etc. But I feel that he should involve himself less in the stuff that others are handling which due to his interference leads to confusion and mismanagement.

Preet Kamal Singh Minhas is the coolest member of the committee. He is a 3rd year CSE student. The only sardar (with due respect) and extremely witty. I love his one-liners. Very responsible. Completes all his tasks and you will always find him dressed well mostly in formals. He is involved in programming related stuff

Aakriti Rana is a 3rd year CSE student. Very dangerous and short tempered. Does not like any nonsense during work. She is very talented, dances, sings etc. and is very commited. But she has a very sweet nature and is very focused about her work.

Ujala Jhamb and Urvashi Khanna are 4th year CSE students. Always work in pairs. Since I have not interacted with them a lot, I do not have much to write about them.

Siddharth Malhotra is a 2nd year CSE student. He is very fast in everything he does. Speaks fast, thinks fast, works fast etc. He seems to be really multi-talented in computing. Likes programming, photoshop etc. He is fun to work with as his conversations are a mixture of jokes and past experiences that you will love to hear. The best thing I like about him is that he always offers to help you.

Abhishrut Gupta is a 2nd year IT student. He does not seem to be very involved in computing but he seems to be a serious Apple fan and is very much involved with quizzing and Mac stuff.

Gurveen K Bhatia, Nishant Gupta, Tanuj Khurana are from the 4th, 3rd and 2nd year respectively. They worked pretty well during Goonj and I would like to thank Nishant and Tanuj for helping me with some of my work.

Ashmeet Thukral and Mani Garg are two first year members. Both are not very good in computing and have not been actively involved in Goonj.

Arjun Angral is the next member for whom I have a question. “Who are you?? What do you look like??”

Finally the last member is.. Yours Truly. Hardly bathes, not concerned about his looks, looks shabby but works a lot.

Note: These are my views on each of the members after I have worked with them for the symposium and for Goonj. Please accept my views in good spirit.

My next post will be about Goonj so be prepared!!